Thursday, March 07, 2013

NOW KPOPPING: SHINee Pines for "Dream Girl"

And those were the "better" outfits. Left to Right: Minho, Onew (leader), Jonghyun, Taemin & Key.
Ya'll, my SHINee BB's are all grown up (almost).

Almost a year after "Sherlock (Clue + Note)" slayed the charts, SM Entertainment's other vocal harmony group have returned to us with not just one full record -- oh no -- but another full set (supposedly) set to be dropping in just a few more weeks. The two piece venture is titled Dream Girl. The first of the two discs, a "dance" set dubbed Chaper 1. Dream Girl - The Misconceptions of You (naturally) hit shelves mid-Februrary (I've been slacking), and the allegedly more ballad-heavy Chapter 2. Dream Girl - The Misconceptions of Me (I see what you did there) is due in April.

The first promotional track off the Dream Girl opus is based around the lead single, "Dream Girl", originally revealed by SM to be an "acid electro funk" song. If that description scares you, forget about it entirely -- it's classic SHINee at its best ("acid", really? I think they just meant the music video, but we'll get to that in a sec), continuing that homage to late 80's/early 90's New Jack Swing feel pioneered in their early days with "Love Is Like Oxygen" and perfected with "Sherlock" (if it ain't broke). This style really suits SHINee, mostly because the group always tried to err on the side of slightly out of center in a genre that is heavily overproduced (and I say that as an ardent fan of electroswizzle). With the exception of "Ring Ding Dong", the majority of SHINee's lead single material has been more akin to the 90's boy band pop I grew up with, and that suits me just fine. 

"Dream Girl" is exactly that -- a tight harmony song with an airy backdrop. While some are pigeonholding my boys for playing it a bit too safe (coming after the more ballsy "Lucifer" and "Sherlock", I can see their point), I do need to say that "Dream Girl" is an evolution for them, not necessarily sonically but as vocalists and entertainers themselves. "Sherlock" saw the surprising (at least to me) rise of baby Taemin to being the group's hidden vocal ace and with "Dream Girl", his role in the SHINeeverse is cemented. Rather than give that big note to vocal powerhouse Jonghyun (swoon!), Taemin took the reins. Rather than hide Minho and just give him the rap, they gave him legitimate lines to sing. There are audible harmonies in the pre-chorus, chorus and bridge. Guys -- SM wanted us to believe these guys were the next TVXQ! and now it's starting to become glaringly obvious why.

Choreography within the vocal challenges was always SHINee's forte and "Dream Girl" is no different, this time with mic stands (again, swoon!). Rather than be in your face about how fly they are ("Sherlock"), the swag is subtle. And in flowered skinny jeggings, no less.

The video is a whole other beast, however -- and I will get to that in my patented "For The Fangirls" section.

As for the Chapter 1 album itself, I've had time to digest it fully and I stand by my statement that it's SHINee's most cohesive to date. For an album that's labeled as dance, I was a bit disappointed by the number of midtempos, but I suppose it's forgiveable. 

The set opens with the initial strings car crash sounds of "Sherlock (Clue + Note)" in an attempt to bridge the gap from last year's mini album before hitting the breaks and launching into "Spoiler," an album intro of sorts that cleverly uses the English word of "Spoiler" akin to movie spoilers, namedropping various song titles on the set that still stands on its own merits. It was written by the group's spotlight member Jonghyun. It's my fave cut away from "Dream Girl".

Production group Hitchhiker, who had previously worked with SHINee via "Electric Heart" from their Lucifer sessions, provide two of the stellar, true "dance" songs of the set: "Hitchhiking" (appropriate) and "Dynamite". SM mainstay Kenzie wrote and produced the piano-driven midtempo "Aside". Teddy Riley co-produced "Beautiful", although it needs a bit of time to warm up and be memorable with its big chorus. From what I can ascertain, legendary Herbie Crichlow (Backstreet Boys, Robyn, Five, and more recently TVXQ!) co-produced "Punch Drunk Love", a more rollicking number that feels very Sunny 90's Pop (although I'm side-eying the fact that it has a similar transition synth to "Sherlock"). All in all, the album is all very listenable, and "Dream Girl" continues SHINee's ace uptempo single legacy.

That being said, if Chapter 2 really is all about the ballads, I think it's offish time for our SHINee BB's to have their sexytime "Before U Go" moment. Who's with me?

Now...For the Fangirls (and Fanboys):

I won't defend this look and neither should you. Left to Right: Key, Minho, Jonghyun, Taemin & Onew.

-Take three seconds and imagine One Direction in those outfits you see above. If you're not laughing, you're doing it wrong.

- Dear SM Entertainment, thank you for hearing our pleas against you trying to cookie-cutter SHINee into those choreography-driven boxes. At least you tried to do something different with this art deco meets flower power-themed ode to mental disturbance. Or at least that's what I seemed to get from the video. A for Effort. Really. So please don't be too offended when I also ask for a Dance Version with JUST the black box? Yes, I know. I'm asking for what I so desperately didn't want before. But to be quite honest, seeing my SHINee BB's all confused and trippy doesn't sit well with me, no matter how quirky they naturally are. Sigh. Love, Mel

- In terms of the new looks, I was waiting for me to ardently hate one or more of their hairstyles but I think this might be the first time in MY HISTORY AS A SHAWOL that I'm digging all five of them.

- Especially Jonghyun's Bruno Mars 50's coif. Rawrrrr, Baby Dinosaur. Rawrrr.

- Onew, you are adorable and don't you ever forget it. You were totes stealing all the glamour shots -- something I walked into this assuming would be all about Ms. Diva Key. Bravo.

- A round of applause for baby Taemin's big high note, everyone.

- I think Jaewon was responsible for this choreography (correct me if I'm wrong) and swoon. Mic Stands + Artful Swiveling + doowop-esque whooo ooh oooh ooh's + cute boy band = Goner.

- Coordi Noonas, you were doing so well with that Black Set. Those pseudo-suits would have looked atrocious on literally any other boy group, but with SHINee, it was working. Hardcore. Then you had to do those cutaways to the random art gallery bits showing them in rejected f(x) costumes and I got a little perturbed. I should have known it would be too good to be true.

- The video was a contrast between the darker, sleeker but still very SHINee motif and the flower-patterned motif. Yes, I'm well aware that SHINee is known for their loud wardrobe (I still don't really know why) but to say the disconnect of tweed and plaid suits with flowered skinny jeggings (that are from the teen girls' department, I guarantee it) wasn't a little jarring -- let's face it. You'd be lying. Perhaps it's my fandom for SHINee that by the end I started to think a few of them looked alright...somehow. But Taemin's Yellow with the Stripes...just no. Stop it now. You're just trying to see what you can get away with. You're scarring the poor child.

- Someday, a grown Taemin will look back on this video and think, "I have no idea why so many grown ass women were so utterly, overwhelmingly attracted to me."

1 comment:

John said...

I've listened to the album, and I would agree about the consistency of Chapter 1. SHINee are definitely developing a sound and a style, and I am excited to see where it goes.

Follow Me on Instagram via @melismaticdiva